It has not been unusual at our fellowship to have some pretty savory characters visit our services. We've had hallucinating drugs addicts, gun toting drug dealers, happy drunks, sad drunks, cross-dressers, adulterers, and more. I joked with my daughters once about a song that said...
Only crazy people fall in love with me
They come from all over to be with me
Bank robbers and killers drunks and drug dealers
Only crazy people fall in love with me
We changed the words up a little to say "Only crazy people come to church with me...". I'm alright with that though. If we are doing our job then we'll always have people who need to hear the Gospel in our services. We must never get so prideful and arrogant that we forget where we came from. Everyone of us came to Christ as sinners in need of a savior. He loved us unconditionally, forgave us, and saved us from our sins.
The Apostle Paul had written to the Church at Corinth and urged them to have no fellowship with sexually immoral people, greedy people, swindlers, and idolaters. The Church took that to mean that they were to avoid lost people completely. I'm afraid that the church still misses the point on this one. We are so separated from the people of the world that we can never reach them with the Gospel. Look at Paul's correction in 1 Corinthians...
1 Corinthians 5:9-13 "I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”
Pretty strong words!
It's not the sin outside the church, in the world that we are to concern ourselves with. God will deal with those outside. It's the sin within the church that we should be concerned with. It's kind of crazy but it seems like we are quick to throw stones at the lost for their sins and yet we are overly accepting of those within the church who refuse to live godly lifestyles. We avoid the office Christmas party for fear our lost coworkers might get drunk, but we refuse to "not associate with anyone who bears the name of a brother" and yet is sexual immoral, greedy, idolatrous, a reviler (critical, verbally abusive), drunkard, or swindler.
Church discipline is difficult. It's painful. It's uncomfortable. Disciplining our children is all of that too, but we love our children enough to discipline them because we want the very best for them. The truth is, we are not enforcing some set of rules that we made up and therefore have the right to amend. We must honor and obey the Lord and His Word. Jesus paid a tremendous price to deliver us from our sins. His sacrifice for our sins was too great for us to view those sins as small and harmless. We have been washed, sanctified, and justified by Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not
inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually
immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice
homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor
revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
So this Sunday there will be people welcomed into our churches whose lives are still a mess and that's alright. Then there will be those who are welcomed into our churches who are expected to live lives of holiness. What's the difference? Jesus! Jesus blood! His name! If we claim the name of Christ we must live lives worthy of that name.
Ephesians 4:1 "Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God."